In Run for the Sun, Blogger Betsey Helfrich Shares the Alzheimer’s Journey with Her Parents

About Deb Bunt and Peter Berry - Slow Puncture

Betsey-HelfrichRun for the Sun — Our Journey Through Alzheimer’s

By Betsey Helfrich

Both of our parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before the age of 70. I was 29 years old when my mom was diagnosed in her 50s. She was beautiful and vibrant and I knew nothing about Alzheimer’s, other than what you see depicted in movies – a kind woman with gray hair and a blanket on her lap looking out the window. For us, Alzheimer’s disease did not look anything like this picture. It came in like a storm, for which we were very ill prepared.

When our Mom was diagnosed my sisters and I were planning our weddings, starting our careers, and having babies while our mother was starting to lose her memories of us. At each turn and up and down of this journey we felt like we were making up what to do next – scrambling with no real guide. At first, I went to Alzheimer’s support groups. Everyone thought I was there giving my grandma a ride. I remember not saying anything at those meetings. While a lot of what was said in the group rang true and I met amazing people, I left there feeling even more alone. That is why my sisters and I decided to start our blog – to tell the story of three young women raising babies and running our parents’ household. To provide the tips we have learned along the way and to give a real look at Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on families. We want to open the doors and tell a story that isn’t always pretty, but does show the beauty in hope and choosing to find joy. We named our blog Run for the Sun, because that is what we have been trying to do since our mom’s diagnosis – learn to march through loss, fear, and uncertainty with as much joy as possible.

Our story took an even more unexpected turn when our dad—who cared for our mom for 10 years—started demonstrating serious cognitive issues. Early this year, two weeks before our mom died, Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The shock and grief are still very new. We are both stronger to start this journey over again after learning for ten years with my mom and yet, also weaker, as this time around as we know what is in store for us.

This is a story we don’t necessarily want to share. I wish this wasn’t our fate. But, I often ask myself, how can we not tell our story? How can we not continue to write? If this is what we have been presented, we have no choice but to help others. We will continue to tell our story to raise awareness, help others with tips we have learned along the way, and to keep fighting this disease.

However Alzheimer’s disease has impacted your life, please join us as we Run for the Sun.

About the Author

Betsey is an attorney, specializing in special education law. She is a wife and mother of two young children. Her sisters, Mindy and Jenny are both educators with young children. All three sisters live in the Midwest near their father. They started their blog Run for the Sun in 2018 to tell their story, bring awareness, and help others.

Connect with Betsey:

Twitter: @runforthesun-alz

Share the Post:

One Response

  1. So very proud of my 3 wonderful nieces that have had to face adversity at very young ages. You girls are great daughters and great parents to your children. How you’ve held up I’ll never know….but I sure ADMIRE you all.

Subscribe to Our eNewsletter

SUBSCRIBE to our weekly eNewsletter! Be among the first to know about new authors, podcasts, events, and more for help on your dementia journey. As a welcome gift, you may download our FREE booklet “Caring for a Mother with Dementia,”  featuring 15 quality titles. Subscription is through You may unsubscribe at any time.

Support Our Mission

Your support enables us to continue to provide quality resources for dementia caregivers. We appreciate any donation. Thank you for your support!